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posted: 7/17/2011 3:00 AM

A candidate for GOP's racist fringe

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Although dismaying, it is not surprising that former KKK Grand Wizard, Louisiana state representative and Republican state district Chairman David Duke is considering a run for the GOP Presidential nomination. Duke's flirtation with a presidential bid comes against a background of growing interest in elective office from white supremacists, one party affiliation of which is not on their list of potential parties is Democratic.

That's because most racists began fleeing the Democratic Party when Southern Democratic President Lyndon Johnson sheparded historic Civil Rights legislation into law in 1964 and 1965. Johnson ruefully remarked at the time that the Democratic Party was finished in the South and his prediction came true under his GOP successor Richard Nixon, who brilliantly devised and exploited his "Southern Strategy" to turn millions of disaffected Southern Democratic whites into Republicans.

Nixon's triumph in 1968 and 1972 with a solid white Republican South was not lost on Ronald Reagan, who kicked off his campaign for president in 1980, in Neshoba County, Mississippi, where three civil rights workers were assassinated in 1964 for the crime of trying to register black voters. Reagan's theme that day: Up with states' rights; down with federal interference in state matters. Hint, hint.

Racism was largely dormant in presidential politics of late till the election of Barack Obama in 2008 brought all the latent GOP racism to the fore, headed up by racist cartoons, pictures and chants at GOP-created and funded tea party rallies. It peaked in the endless phony allusions to Obama's African birth, even championed by faux candidate Donald Trump.

If Duke does enter the race, a good motto for the racist fringe of the GOP should be: If you're gonna do crazy, go all the way ... Duke for President.

Walt Zlotow

Glen Ellyn